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Nex 6 with Zeiss 24mm f1.8 vs RX1

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by Ray Sachs, Aug 24, 2013.

  1. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I did a brief comparison of the Nex 6 and the Fuji XM1 recently. Well, as long as I have a loaner of the Nex 6 and the Zeiss 24mm f1.8, I figured I should do a comparison of that setup to its big brother in the Sony family, the RX1. The RX1's 35mm f2.0 lens combined with full frame sensor should be a pretty good match for the focal length equivalent, or field of view, of the 24mm f1.8. Turns out the RX1 is noticeably wider, but close enough for government work, as I used to say during my days with the government (no, I didn't really say that then). Some of the points I make here are relevant to any Nex body with the 24mm lens, some are relevant to the Nex 6 sensor specifically.

    The Nex 6 body with this Zeiss lens will run you about $1750, with the bulk of that (about $1100) from the lens. The RX1 will run about $2800 and if you add the EVF (which puts it on similar footing to the Nex 6), the total comes to about $3250. So the RX1 isn't quite twice the cost of this Nex 6 combination, but its pretty close. Without the EVF, its notably less, but then you wouldn't have the EVF, now would you?

    In short there's a definite difference in quality between these two setups, but I'm not sure how well I can show it. The biggest differences are at the margins, as they always are. The RX1 has greater detail (mostly due to the higher megapixel sensor - 24 vs 16 - one presumes, but the lens may play a role as well), more DR and is better at higher ISOs than the Nex. It also has narrower DOF, but the Nex is quite good in this regard. For day to day shooting of landscapes, street-scapes, travel shots, abstracts, family, etc, the Nex 6 is a LOT of camera. Obviously if you want to use other lenses, its an interchangeable lens camera and the RX1 isn't, so there's that to factor in. And once the sensor is superseded by something better with the Nex 6, you can buy a new body but the lens will still be just as good (although at some point it may not live up to the resolution of the sensor?). Whereas, again, the RX1 is a fixed lens so the sensor will have to do until you're ready to upgrade the whole thing. That said, while I'm sure there will be notable upgrades to the RX1 in coming years, its hard to imagine it being very much better for the kinds of shooting I do with it.

    First a couple of narrow DOF / bokeh samples from the two cameras, with both lenses wide open:

    Nex at f1.8
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/9584328254/" title="Nex Bokeh f1.8 by ramboorider1, on Flickr">"680" height="1024" alt="Nex Bokeh f1.8"></a>

    RX1 at f2.0
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/9584327410/" title="RX1 Bokeh f2.0 by ramboorider1, on Flickr">"683" height="1024" alt="RX1 Bokeh f2.0"></a>

    You can see the narrower DOF from the RX1 is narrower with more of the bobblehead statue itself out of focus than with the Nex. That's down to math and is easily predictable. But the quality of the bokeh, to my eye, is remarkably similar, very soft, with just a bit of definition in the edges. Overall, both are very pleasant to my eye. Unless you're a real narrow DOF freak, this might not be a big enough difference to worry about. If you are, its hard to beat the RX1 for a compact camera.

    Next, low light, high ISO shots. These are 100% crops on the Nex and the RX1 is what I call "eyeball down-sampled" to account for the difference between 16 and 24 megapixels. I simply tried to match the Nex crop with the RX1, at what will be less than 100%. The RX1 shows more noise than this at 100% (although still finer and more detailed than the Nex samples), but this should represent the difference at any given print size or display size. Needless to say, no NR was applied to any of these:

    First at ISO 6400:

    Nex:
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/9584326336/" title="Nex ISO 6400 by ramboorider1, on Flickr">"1024" height="1024" alt="Nex ISO 6400"></a>

    RX1:
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/9581540847/" title="RX1 ISO 6400 by ramboorider1, on Flickr">"1024" height="1024" alt="RX1 ISO 6400"></a>

    And at ISO 12,800 - I sometimes shoot the RX1 this high, I don't think I would with the Nex.

    Nex:
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/9581540723/" title="Nex ISO 12,800 by ramboorider1, on Flickr">"1024" height="1024" alt="Nex ISO 12,800"></a>

    RX1:
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/9584325858/" title="RX1 ISO 12,800 by ramboorider1, on Flickr">"1024" height="1024" alt="RX1 ISO 12,800"></a>

    Clearly, the full frame sensor in the RX1 handles high ISO noise much better than the APS sensor in the Nex. This is significantly true even with the RX1 cropped to 100%, but overwhelmingly true once down-sampled to approximately the same crop. I've seen these great results from the RX1 in real world use as well - I haven't really done any real world very low light shooting with the Nex, so these test shots will have to do. This is a big part of what you get for so much more money - and you should...

    Next, I did a bit of real world shooting with both, just taking a walk at one of my favorite agricultural preserves around sunset one day last week. These shots are processed the way I tend to process them. Some will find them over-processed but this also helps show how well the two files from the two sensors take varying amounts of pushing and pulling. The bottom line is both did very very well. You really have to pixel peep these to see much difference. When you do, you can see the difference in detail in the foliage, the additional noise in the darker parts of the Nex shots that have been pulled up, relative to the cleaner portions of the RX1 shots. But unless you're doing huge prints or pushing and pulling the shadows and highlights a lot harder than I am, there's not much to see between the two.

    Nex:
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/9581550131/" title="Stroud Nex 24-12-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr">"1024" height="680" alt="Stroud Nex 24-12-Edit"></a>

    RX1:
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/9584334384/" title="Stroud RX1-10-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr">"1024" height="683" alt="Stroud RX1-10-Edit"></a>

    Nex:
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/9581547185/" title="Stroud Nex 24-22-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr">"1024" height="680" alt="Stroud Nex 24-22-Edit"></a>

    RX1:
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/9584331626/" title="Stroud RX1-21-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr">"1024" height="683" alt="Stroud RX1-21-Edit"></a>

    Nex:
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/9581545193/" title="Stroud Nex 24-32-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr">"1024" height="680" alt="Stroud Nex 24-32-Edit"></a>

    RX1:
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/9584329522/" title="Stroud RX1-31-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr">"1024" height="683" alt="Stroud RX1-31-Edit"></a>

    So, the RX1 is better around the margins of DR, low light, and narrow DOF. The RX1 is very clearly a better low light machine, but in good light and even marginal light, the differences are much harder to see. The lens is also pretty amazing in some subtler ways, but those don't come through particularly well in web-sized shots. The question, as always, is "is it worth the difference", and the answer, as always, is "it depends".

    For me it was, mostly just to have one "no compromises" camera in my bag at a focal length I'm comfortable with. It was a financial reach but it was within reach. If it wasn't, I would be very happy with the Nex/Zeiss combination. Or for that matter, with the Fuji X100s, which I compared with the RX1 a few months back, here: https://www.photographerslounge.org/f38/sony-rx1-fuji-x100s-comparison-long-18002/. If I already had a Nex system, I'd just add the lens and upgrade the body periodically. As is, I have the RX1 and I hope I'll like it as much as I do now even when its not on the bleeding edge of what's possible anymore. Its a great camera and it won't be any worse when something better comes along. I guess the question will be how MUCH better, how MUCH will it cost, and whether it'll matter to me. Everyone has their own balance to reach on these types of questions...

    -Ray
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 21, 2016
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  2. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants SC All-Pro

    Mar 3, 2013
    John Griggs
    Wow, not interested in either camera, but those real world landscapes are AWESOME. Very beautiful clouds in particular. I may like the NEX 6 a bit more in those shots somehow, but if so not by much.
     
  3. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Thanks John. The Nex seems to pick a slightly warmer WB by default - I think that's most of what you're seeing, but I wouldn't swear to it.

    These were taken at the Stroud Preserve, not far from Kennett at all, but very close to West Chester, just out 162 on the way to Marshallton, right before the Brandywine... Its pretty much where I go when I want to shoot some landscapes and I don't happen to be in Italy!

    -Ray
     
  4. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    I could really be happy with either. At this point it's kinda splitting hairs. But I have found that once you start living with a camera and get used to seeing the files yourself, you start to zero in on little differences and they become a little bigger. Most normal people wouldn't see the differences. It could be the processing, but I feel like the RX1 shots seem smoother. But this is pixel peeping way beyond my pay grade. When I see what the NEX cameras do, it just seems like the only reason for FF is for shallow DOF (which also adds depth to shots which aren't just shallow for the sake of being shallow).
     
  5. Garylh

    Garylh SC Veteran

    Thanks Ray.. Razor thin DOF was something I rarely use but high iso shots I am doing more and more lately. The difference there is more then I expected.

    Gary
     
  6. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Yeah, I think when you're working with the files, the differences are more apparent than when you're just looking at the finished results. I think in terms of what's readily visible, the low light differences are pretty apparent - I absolutely see a difference in my Italy shots between the RX1 and Nikon and I find the Nikon as good for low light as any APS camera I've used. But DR is something I appreciate a lot more when I'm working with the files than in the finished results. And resolution is fun when pixel peeping, but I rarely see it that much in prints or normal display sizes. If I cared more about fine detail, I'd probably own all three Sigmas instead of none of them, because they're amazing to pixel peep, but I don't like them more than anything else in finished product. Actually, in the Italy book, I probably prefer all three of the other camera's printed results to the Sigma...

    -Ray
     
  7. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    I'm about halfway through that Italy book and I'm enjoying it on a larger screen than at home. My employee Terry wants to quit his job and go to Italy!
     
  8. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    You know how some old rock albums contained the instruction "Play it LOUD" printed somewhere on the jacket? I'm tempted to include instructions with that PDF, "look at it on a BIG screen"! All but a few of those images look at lot better, to me at least, in a larger format. I have a few of the 8x10 books, but the 11x13" copy I have looks SOOO much better. Anyway, I can't be held responsible for your employee's actions. If I had a job, I might quit and go to Italy too! :cool:

    -Ray
     
  9. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants SC All-Pro

    Mar 3, 2013
    John Griggs
    I saw a copy in person when I met Ray for lunch recently and it IS wonderful!

    You know, Ray, I did not know of this place until now and thanks! As far as the WB you may be right -- I didn't spend any time figuring the difference but when I went back and looked that may indeed be a part of it.
     
  10. alterstill

    alterstill New to SC

    1
    Sep 16, 2013
    Thanks Ray, very useful and very on time since I am trying to resist temptation to acquire RX1. Zeiss 24/18 is my go to lens on Nex7 and now need someone to convince me that RX1 isn't really worth it :-D. It's not that I could replace my Nex7, I still like occasional landscape shot with SEL1018F4.
    BTW it's my first post here, however some I seem to recognise some folks here from DPR. Hello everyone.
     
  11. biglouis

    biglouis SC Veteran

    401
    Aug 4, 2013
    I'm with Ray in that the RX1 is a wonderful landscape camera. The sensor is really something and the lens is of course a beauty.

    That said as these shots show you could be very happy indeed with the NEX and the Zeiss 24/1.8. I'm really interested to see what the quality of the recently announced Zeiss 16-40 is going to be like.

    LouisB
     
  12. serhan

    serhan SC All-Pro

    May 7, 2011
    NYC
    Ray, thanks for the review.

    LouisB, there are 16-70mm samples are at dpreview at 16mm & 70mm w/ nex 7 raw images:
    http://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3547108#forum-post-52167944

    Other (good) samples and his gallery page w/ full size images:
    http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/52061058
    http://www.dpreview.com/galleries/321638695/photos/2675485/_dsc0312

    It looks good so far. There are no reviews of the lens which is/will be released this week, maybe due to FF model coming. At 70mm, the extended lens becomes like 1.5x times of smallest size.
     
  13. NightBird

    NightBird SC Regular

    175
    Apr 23, 2013
    Sydney, Australia
    Darren
    Thanks Ray.. I'm contemplating a big purchase in the coming weeks (Trying to hold out so see whats coming in October) and appreciate your post.
     
  14. colonel

    colonel SC Regular

    57
    Apr 25, 2013
    London
    To be honest with RAW files this good to work with it's all splitting hairs.
    I would go with the Nex here.
    If I was rich enough I would take both.
    If I never wanted to change lens it would be a harder decision.
    Both cameras demonstrate the quality if Sony's camera division these days.
     
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